Furniture, Free TVs, and the Value of Add Ons
I’m not sure what it’s like where you live, but in Central Texas, we have furniture store ads running all the time. Maybe Texans buy a lot of furniture or maybe the guys that own the furniture stores just have money to spend. Either way, I give them quite a bit of side eye when their commercial is on. It’s not that I inherently don’t trust commission sales people (or maybe I don’t) but it’s all the extras they put on to try to entice you. “Buy this couch and love seat and get this 50” HDTV for free!”
Nice try. That TV cost is built in there. You can’t fool me. How about you keep your TV and just reduce the price?
Maybe you don’t have furniture moguls filling the air waves where you live. Here’s another place I see this technique. American Pickers. You know the show, right? The Laurel and Hardy of the reality world drive across the country in a tiny van looking for buried treasure in the form of old signs, Barbie dolls, and wagons.
In that show, when they are trying to convince someone to sell them something, they bundle items together. They openly talk about the way a person’s mind works when they are able to sell things or buy things in multiple quantities. It seems like a better deal. It rarely is for both parties.
This happens every time my wife goes to Costco or Sam’s.
Chris: Do we really need 48 rolls of paper towels?
Em: But it’s a better deal this way!
Chris: How much better?
Em: I saved like 75 cents.
Chris: Per roll?
Em: No, total. But we will eventually need all of these.
You see this in the outdoor world all the time too. Buy a kayak and get a free paddle. Buy a shotgun and get a free ammo case. Buy a bass boat and get a free cover. Buy a new ATV and get free undercoating. Maybe it’s just me but these all seem like throwaway items to me. It’s there to entice you to buy. The item has perceived value but not at the same number your thinking. Let’s break it down.
I want to buy a new bass boat. I know I am going to store it outside so I need a cover. I start doing research on boat covers and realize a good one that will last a while is going to run about $350. Or more.
The boat dealership is telling me they will throw in a boat cover when I buy a boat and my brain immediately says, “Sweet! I just saved $350!” Problem is you didn’t. They stick you with a cheap cover, nowhere near the quality of what you were wanting and in six months you’ll figure that out when it rips on your trolling motor blade because the seams aren’t double reinforced. Now, the tipping factor in making it a great deal has failed and I’m about to lay out more cash. The honeymoon is over.
I’m all about a good deal, really I am. Those who know me best know I am tight with my money. That’s different than cheap however. I want to buy it once and be done with it. I’m not about constantly rebuying cheap crap in hopes that it will last. I buy something that will last and never worry about it again.
So when you’re hitting up retail, what can you do? How do you not get stuck in a bundle deal? Ask for something different. My favorite deal with a kayak is the % off accessories deal. That allows me to choose exactly what I want, the quality I want, and I never have to worry about quality. I don’t need a $25 paddle you say retails for $100 but I can’t buy anywhere else but from you. That’s worse than an inflated MSRP on eBay. (We’ve all seen those people.) There is no way to cross check that. Instead, how about a gift card or store credit?
If you say a promotional item is worth X amount, shouldn’t I be able to swap it out for something else (preferably of an established quality brand). I tried it at a furniture place. They looked at me like my head was green and red striped and leaking candy canes. I tried to explain that I was buying a mattress for $1,000 and they were offering a free HDTV from Best Buy valued at $400. My offer was that I buy the mattress for $600 and they can keep the PanAsian knockoff brand TV that barely did 1080P. Stares and confusion. I tried to explain the math. They didn’t get it. I left. Without a mattress. I don’t want your knockoff TV, I want a Samsung or Sony. Something established that I won’t be throwing away in six months.
My opinion and advice is to ask lots of questions about free add ons. Perceived value, actual value, and quality should be thought through. If you roll the dice and it works out, awesome! If it doesn’t, well, break out the wallet.
Dont’ forget to checkout additional articles from Chris. Here’s one: Budget Talk: Let Them Buy Hobies